Psalm 38, Domine ne in furore tuo arguas me, in rememorationem de sabbato
By Mary Abrahamson
O Lord, rebuke me not in thy indignation, for a remembrance of the Sabbath, A Psalm of David
Oh, this is vivid! Right from the beginning, David gives us a searing image of God’s anger, …. hot displeasure, arrows piercing, hand pressing. God’s righteous wrath over our sin isacutely portrayed in these two short verses. Again we see God pressing on David to show David his sin.
O Lord, do not rebuke me in Your wrath,
Nor chasten me in Your hot displeasure!
For Your arrows pierce me deeply,
And Your hand presses me down.
The following verses remind us of the physical and emotional burden of our sin. We may think we can sneak by with that little sin, or even that big sin. But God’s righteousness and justice is all-encompassing. We see here similar themes to what David wrote in Psalm 32. The weight of unacknowledged sin bears down on us in physical and emotional weakness to bring us back to God.
There is no soundness in my flesh
Because of Your anger,
Nor any health in my bones
Because of my sin.
For my iniquities have gone over my head;
Like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me.
My wounds are foul and festering
Because of my foolishness.
I am troubled, I am bowed down greatly;
I go mourning all the day long.
For my loins are full of inflammation,
And there is no soundness in my flesh.
I am feeble and severely broken;
I groan because of the turmoil of my heart.
Nothing is hidden from God and He sees our very worst thoughts and actions.
Lord, all my desire is before You;
And my sighing is not hidden from You.
My heart pants, my strength fails me;
As for the light of my eyes, it also has gone from me.
We can find this same imagery and truth in Hebrews 4:12-13. In this passage we see both the piercing nature of God’s Word upon sinful hearts and also our all-knowing God, who sees everything we do, and everything we think, and everything we feel.
The devil, the world, and our flesh assail us. We disappoint our friends with our sin. Our loved ones lose patience with our weakness. Some might even be angry enough at us to seek vengeance. Our earthly walk is through danger all the way.
My loved ones and my friends stand aloof from my plague,
And my relatives stand afar off.
Those also who seek my life lay snares for me;
Those who seek my hurt speak of destruction,
And plan deception all the day long.
Sometimes all we can do is cling to God. The more we try to talk, to explain, to argue, or even to comfort, the more we seem to be afflicted by our sin. All we can do is cling to God, and hope in His promises.
But I, like a deaf man, do not heart
And I am like a mute who does not open his mouth.
Thus I am like a man who does not hear,
And in whose mouth is no response.
And what a dependable Hope that is. God is not frail or erratic. He is not untrustworthy. With the Psalmist David, we can have confidence that God does hear us. David expresses his hope in God, and his confidence that God will hear. He prays knowing that God hears.
For in You, O Lord, I hope;
You will hear, O Lord my God.
For I said, “Hear me, lest they rejoice over me,
Lest, when my foot slips, they exalt themselves against me.”
David cries out once more of his weakness, his sin, and his inability to do anything about it on his own. We join him in a confession of our own sin, our sorrow, and our great need for our Lord, in the midst of all spiritual adversity. We pray this same refrain in the Lord’s Prayer, “Deliver us from evil.”
For I am ready to fall,
And my sorrow is continually before me.
For I will declare my iniquity;
I will be in anguish over my sin.
But my enemies are vigorous, and they are strong;
And those who hate me wrongfully have multiplied.
Those also who render evil for good,
They are my adversaries, because I follow what is good.
Do not forsake me, O Lord;
O my God, be not far from me!
Make haste to help me,
O Lord, my salvation!